At what age will you let your child go into a public restroom alone?
I am a mother of a 12 year old son and I am very nervous about mall safety. I don't allow him to go to the bathroom on his own. When he is in there on his own, I have no idea what is happening.
I raised four daughters, who are all adults now, and whether or not I would allow them into a public restroom always depended on the location. If it was at our small church or private country club, for example, I felt comfortable even when they were little. When we ate at a restaurant or similar public place, I usually went with them until they were in about 5th grade. When we stopped at rest areas along the freeway, we went into the restrooms as a group, even when they were teenagers. The more likely there were to be strangers around, the more careful we were.
I know how you feel. My son is sixteen now so I let him go in by himself but when he was younger I used to ask a man to check to see if anyone was in there (usually I'd catch someone coming out and ask them) Then I would check really quick and stand outside the door until he came out. It sounds a little crazy but you really never know. I saw a thing on tv where a little girl was raped in a public bathroom.
When my kids (two sons and a daughter) were young enough to be with me when we'd be out and they'd need a rest-room, it wasn't about their age for me. It was about whether the rest-room was one that was designed for only one person in it or not. I knew the kind of places that tend to have single-person rest-rooms (like some doughnut shops, some sandwich/pizza shops, some gas stations, etc.); and I'd look for those. When the kids were young enough I'd "scan" the rest-room first before "clearing" it so they could then use it. Then I (and any siblings not using the rest-room) would stand outside until the child came out. I hoped that they'd learn to do the same kind of "scan-before-going-in" so they could do it when they were older. The sometimes meant leaving something like a mall (or at least going somewhere to find, say, a doughnut or pizza place), but I didn't care about any inconvenience. Most of the time it wasn't too difficult to find a single-person room. I pretty much just saw the need to go looking for a single-person room as "part of the deal" with having sons of a certain age.
Of course, if twelve-year-olds are at the mall with friends or someone else they can always be taught to go into mall restrooms with their friends; so they've not in their alone with any potential sicko-freaks - which is why I always thought it was good to teach them, when they were, say, grade-school age, how they could take their own safety into their own hands by taking a few steps to reduce/eliminate risk (RELATIVELY, R E L A T I V E L Y, rare as some risks may be; because although the risk may be RELATIVELY rare it is nonetheless a very real one).
I also tried to make them aware that a very busy rest-room was better than one that had several stalls but not many people in it. When my sons were too old to bring into a multi-stall room with me, I wasn't above scanning a multi-stall ladies' room to make sure it was empty, telling my son to use that, and standing outside and asking women to hold off going in until my son came out. That wasn't necessary very often (AT ALL); and neither was asking someone to stay outside for a minute until my son came out, but I figured a) other mothers and adult women would understand, and b) most women would appreciate that more than having a mother bring even a very young son into the room.
As a Father with young boys I would not have a problem allowing a 12 year old to go to a public restroom alone under the following conditions.
1. I had discussed safety with him and was sure he understood what to do if approached by someone while in the restroom.
2. I set a time limit for him. If you are concerned about his safety set a time limit and let him know he better be out within that time or you are coming in after him.
3. If you feel he has been gone too long, you might ask a man with children to check on him for you.
4. Since you specifically mentioned the mall, you can ask security to check on him if you are concerned about the time as well.
12 years old should be about the time that you begin giving him some space. Safety is always a priority, but if you put safeguards in place, he should be fine.
Great advice thank you. He would definitely stick to a time limit because he knows that I will march in there if needed. :0) Thank you for some really good tips.
I agree too with these tips...quite helpful, will definitely try them. Thank you
My daughter just turned 8 last month and is in the 2nd grade. I don’t let her go into a restroom by herself because I obviously don’t feel comfortable with it. Yet, when her father is out with her she does go by herself; she’s too old to go in with him and he obviously can’t go with her. Yes, some places are better than others and some places have convenient “kid-friendly” bathrooms. On the other hand, too many bad things are lurking out there and I do worry about my kids when they’re with their father because I know that I am the more “cautious” and maybe “protective” one. My son will be 12 next week and I find myself still trying to keep him safe and he is starting to try to fill “big boy shoes”. I don’t want to prevent him from growing up (though I’d like to drag it out as much as I can) and I definitely don’t want to make my children fearful of the world. I want my children to be aware of dangers but not anxious about them. I guess my opinion is that location and the situation absolutely affect children going to the bathroom alone, but the most important thing we can do as parents is to teach them how to make appropriate decisions and ideally they will be able to keep themselves safe because of what they have been taught. We can’t walk around with our kids forever, but it would be a great feeling to know that they’ve been well equipped.
I completely agree with you. My son is 10 year old and for me its very scary to let him alone in a public bathroom. Till he comes out, I get so nervous, thinking hopefully everything's okay back in there. Before letting him in I warn him to be quick, and I stand by the door making futile attempts of watching over my watch. Its scary and terrible experience.
I have 2 boys, 7 and 9. I let them go together into the men's restroom, but I do not allow either of them by themselves. They both know the rules. No urinals, stalls only, no talking to anyone, and get out quickly. Both of my children have been taught already about the dangers of strangers. My 9 year old is on a much higher intellectual level so I feel confident in him to follow the rules and to make sure his brother follows them.
Statistically our children are in more danger in their own homes than in a mall. 88% of sexual assaults on children are committed by someone they know. So I guess for me knowing these statistics gives me a small amount of comfort in letting my children out of my sight.
Also, no offense, but I'd be one of those people giving you a sideways look if you brought your 12 year old boy into the ladies bathroom, especially after my daughter gets older. Think of the uncomfortable feeling you have thinking of letting him in the men's bathroom alone, then think how a mom with a 12 year old daughter would feel about you having your soon to be puberty struck son in the bathroom with her daughter. Most 12 year old boys are just discovering the basic forms of their sexuality (I know a thought no mom wants to think about). Again no offense, just pointing out the other side of this.
My son is 6 years old, still goes to ladies restroom with me. I did try let him go into the men's restroom by himself but he refused. He did tried to go in with his daddy but refused to go in since then. Men's restroom is full of urine odor, awfully bad stench that puts him off. He says men's room is dirty, smelly because nobody flushes and he had never seen other men's adult penis before. Scared him out of his wits! I am okay for him to go any restroom as long as he is ready but seems that he isn't yet.
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